Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Why do people nail bite?

Why do people nail bite?

Nail bitting also known as NB is a very common. It is a problem in psychiatry,  psychology, medicine and dentistry. Nail bitting can be stopped, but it can be very difficult based on the individual. There is a review aiming at the overview of prevalence, co-morbidities, education, counseling and management for nail bitting. Co-morbidities of psychiatric disorders and stereotypic  behaviors is a clinical sample in children. The percent of the children who suffer is 80%, more than half the children's parents have also suffered from the same disorders, such as depression.

Nail biting usually doesn't occur until the age of three or four. This is a very young age at which nail biting can occur. It is unclear what percentage of children with NB stopping. Nail biting decreases once one goes from a child to an adolescent. In a study in Iran, school age children indicated that NB in boys and girls was 20.1% to 24.4%. This study showed that NB is not related when it comes to gender. This is because the percentages are so close in number that there really isn't a difference. NB is also not related to conduct problems, inattentiveness, hyperactivity and peer problems. A study showed that 36.8% of nail biters had one family member with the same bad habit. NB has not been proven to be genetic, but when it comes to children biting their nails it may be because they are exposed to the bad habit of nail biting. Nail biting has been related to a behavioral and anxiety study. NB is a state of anxiety and not a trait. The trait coincides with NB is oral aggression. Recent studies have shown that NB is due to boredom or working on difficult problems rather than anxiety. Nail biters don't bite their nails in social interactions or when they are reprimanded for their bad habit.

I myself am a nail biter so reading this journal entry changed my perspective of things. Based off what I shared above I thought it was interesting that studies showed that nail biting is not caused from anxiety or depression. After rereading this I thought about my interactions when I nail bit. I normally nail bite when I am under stress, for example test taking. I recently had a physics exam and gnawed off all my nails because I sought the problems to be very difficult. That being said it makes me think about all the times I have bitten my nails. Did I bite my nails because of the difficulty and not that I was anxious?


Tatiana Silveira (3) 


  1. I thought it was very interesting that people who bite their nails have some family member that also has the same habit. Before I always assumed that it was something people did to alleviate their nerves like chewing gum or pacing.

    -Trung Le (2)

  2. I found this post very interesting due to the fact that I am not a nail biter. I have always wondered why people have done it and what was the driving cause. I guess it depends on how people handle their stress and what action they need to take a part of while they are thinking. I pick at my lip when I am thinking very hard and maybe thats the same kind of tendency as nail biting.

    Posted by Sarah Aboody (1)

  3. I use to bite my nails as a kid, and I could've swore that everyone did. I never thought of it as a nervous habit or anything like that. The fact that people who bite their nails are likely to have relatives that bite their nails is interesting though. Using psychological concepts such as "nature vs. nurture" you could wonder, are they biting their nails because it is a behavior that is actually genetically linked? Or is it just because they were exposed to the nail biting by seeing relatives doing it, therefor they picked up the habit themselves?

    -Michael Magnant(2)

  4. Maybe it's because I, personally, have never been an active participant in the matter, but I never realized that nail biting was so common! It's interesting because cartoons and other media always depict NB to be a react to anxiety induced by some stressful/scary event, but perhaps there's more to it than that! It makes sense to me that children with a NB parent are more likely to pick up the bad habit. I wonder what the tricks are for kicking the habit? Maybe painted fingernails would deter one from nail biting? Or as someone else suggested, perhaps gum chewing or a stress ball would be a decent alternative!

    -Nicole Ayres (1)